How are you feeling about yourself these days? How are adjusting to this new sense of who you are as a parent? How are you adjusting to the physical changes you’re experiencing? Do you feel like you have lost touch with You? Exploring this big and sometimes abstract concept often goes to the back burner when there is so much that needs to be done. But giving some time and space for you to connect with yourself is a huge aspect of adjusting to this change in life.
Thoughts & Emotions
These often go hand in hand. What we tell ourselves about ourselves and our lives will impact how we feel. So what does your self-talk sound like? I use CBT strategies to help change destructive thinking and self-perceptions. Perfectionism is seldom helpful, and usually a destructive habit for a new mom or dad because there is no such thing as a perfect parent. So stop expecting perfection from yourself and set more realistic expectations for yourself.
For many new parents the experiences of pregnancy or birth can be traumatizing, often when there have been complications. The fears of harm to your baby, harm to yourself, harm to your partner can be overwhelming and affect you long after the immediate danger has passed.
Do you feel connected with your baby yet? Lots of new parents beat themselves up unnecessarily because they don’t think they are connected “enough” to their new baby. This connection often develops over time, not overnight. There are many things new parents can do to support the connection they feel with a new baby.
Having opportunities to engage with other adults is important. Feeling connected to others outside of your home helps keep isolation at bay. This may mean alone time with your partner, or time with friends, a group of new moms. So what support would you need in order to make this a priority?
Are you sleeping? Is you baby sleeping? Is that sleep restful? Did you know that the greatest risk factor for depression in new parents is actually fatigue? It may sound simple, but we cannot overlook the importance of quality sleep during this period of your life.
Time for yourself
For many new moms taking care of themselves falls to the bottom of the priority list. But taking care of yourself is important. Get out of the house to do something you enjoy, embrace a hobby or some other entertainment for yourself. Having regular time for just You is not harmful to your baby. In fact, taking care of yourself is one of the best things you can do for your baby.
What are your support systems? Who do you turn to for help? All new parents need help, that is the expectation. When you need help, guidance, reassurance, for the thousands of new experiences and tasks that come with being a new parent, do you feel like you have a tribe to call upon? Maybe you have more opportunities for support than you realize.
Stress and Worry
How are you managing the stress and worry that comes with being a new parent? Often new moms envision the worst possible scenario in any situation, and then feel terribly guilty. Remember that thoughts are different than actions, so don’t feel bad about what you think. We are biologically wired to be protectors of our young, and this protective energy may need to be directed in a more helpful way.
Our physical wellbeing is very closely connected to our emotional wellbeing. Are you getting good nutrition, do you have lasting pain or discomfort, are you getting fresh air and exercise? And keep in mind that exercise right now probably means going for a walk with your baby, and that is perfectly wonderful. I am not a medical doctor but I want to work with you and your doctor to address your physical wellbeing.